Commentary

It’s time to start singing again

“Keep a green bough in your heart”

Life in a retirement cooperative community is a lot like life in a congregation. Almost every day something unexpected and totally unanticipated breaks the routine and a “member” gets a glimpse of the enrichment that can come with close relationships.

Across the hall from the apartment we now call home lives an ex-military man who is now alone. Since he lost his wife over a year ago, the friendship we had developed has grown closer. His interest in, and support of, the ministry of the cooperative’s chapel has continued. His gifts to the chapel fund are not expected, but are greatly appreciated.

The surprise that came with his Christmas gift was what he called a “well-known” (to him, but not to us) saying. It had been, he explained, one of their “year-long favorites.”
As sensitive, rich and timely as the saying is, it seemed important to share it with readers of Metro Lutheran. Here it is:

Keep a green bough in your heart —
and the singing bird will come.

Only a little reflection on the profound truths in these simple words can stir the souls and spirits of those who have been nearly overwhelmed with the mood of melancholy which has washed over our society in the past few months. Much of the wisdom of our sacred texts has been obscured by the dry, brittle, almost dead branches and undergrowth that have choked out the green boughs of spiritual life and vitality.

Both sacred and secular history cry out, “Keep the green bough in your heart! Don’t let it die!”

There may appear to be nothing but cold, wintry nights of silence; or worse, raucous cacophonies of blatant, unintelligible sounds that only confuse. But “the singing bird will come.”

There is sweet truth, assurance and grace out there, perhaps in forms and language difficult to discern. There are people who have suffered much more than we. There are fellow humans who want to urge us to wait for the singing bird, and then listen.

The song, the voice, the word may come in the woods, on the lake, in the house of the Lord, across the breakfast table or across the hall.

Are you listening?

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Kretzmann is the founding president of Metro Lutheran newspaper. He continues to serve on the paper’s Board of Directors and contributes an occasional commentary piece for this page.